Cover: Invented by Law: Alexander Graham Bell and the Patent That Changed America, from Harvard University PressCover: Invented by Law in HARDCOVER

Invented by Law

Alexander Graham Bell and the Patent That Changed America

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Product Details


$40.00 • £32.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674368064

Publication Date: 01/05/2015


288 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

8 halftones


Enlarges our understanding of the Bell legacy by inviting us to step back from the myths and the moralizing, the hero worship and the scandal mongering. Though inventors became celebrities in industrializing America, it was not individual ingenuity but the legal wizardry of patents—and the shrewd, increasingly influential lawyers who secured them—that most powerfully shaped technology, the economy, and society. Beauchamp uses the story of the lawyers who made Bell the inventor of the telephone to show how the patent became a key weapon of market power and the cornerstone of a new legal–industrial complex.—Graeme Gooday, Boston Review

Invented by Law offers an utterly convincing reinterpretation of the legal struggles over the telephone patents and the making of the Bell telephone monopoly. Beauchamp locates lawyers as the leads in a historical drama that used to pay attention solely to inventors and those who claimed to be inventors. But his deeper contribution is to make the rise of the Bell empire both deeply contingent and deeply evocative of the transatlantic capitalist culture that came into being at the end of the nineteenth century. A brilliant work of economic-legal history, one shaped by meticulous and imaginative research and by an iconoclastic historical imagination.—Hendrik Hartog, author of Someday All This Will Be Yours

Invented by Law shows how an epic late-nineteenth-century contest over intellectual property rights shaped the communications networks of twentieth-century America. Monopoly, Beauchamp concludes, was made and not born, an insight that raises troubling questions about the idealization of patent rights not only in the age of Alexander Graham Bell, but also in our own.—Richard R. John, Columbia University

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